I like to keep my dock tidy with almost only the applications I'm currently using shown. As such, I tend to completely quit out of apps so that they don't clutter my dock. However, there are apps which would be advantageous to allow to update in the background (e.g. mail). Is there a way to allow an app to remain open, but hide the icon when there are no open windows? I've seen ways to completely hide the icon at all times, but I would prefer that the icon was there when there are active windows open. Any clean way of doing this? Thank you much.

  • I do not understand your question. Just remove all apps from the dock (or all that you do not use on hourly basis), Then any app that you open will be in the dock as long you use it? = Clean Dock!
    – Ruskes
    Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 16:50
  • @Buscar웃: Please see the comment I left in your answer. Thanks.
    – golmschenk
    Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 18:22
  • As far as I am aware there is no way to hide the icon of an open application only at certain times. Even the method of always hiding the icon is problematic, as it prevents the application from being shown in the Command+Tab switcher, so unless there is a menubar icon, you cannot access the application.
    – tubedogg
    Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 18:28

2 Answers 2


Hide the Dock, then use Contexts for Mac to switch between active windows. Contexts has an option to show only the application with active windows regardless it’s running in background or not. You can read my review here.

  • Thanks for the alternative option, but this doesn't actually accomplish what I was asking in the question. I will consider it as an option for myself though.
    – golmschenk
    Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 18:19

So I found this to be closest to what you want.

Show One Application At A Time

you can enable a ‘single application’ mode by entering the following command in Terminal:

defaults write com.apple.dock single-app -bool true

You must then enter this command in order to see the changes:

killall Dock

This mode allows for only 1 application to be shown at one time.

  • The OP is not looking for only one application to be shown at a time. They want the icon of an application (several applications?) to be hidden from the dock when they are in the background.
    – tubedogg
    Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 18:46

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